€You began on stage early, didn’t you?
When I finished at the Institute of Theatre, there was a lot going on. Doors were opening. I first did something with Lurdes Barba. In the Sant Agustí convent we did a show called ’Noves veus, nous poetes’. Then I worked at the Mercat de les Flors theatre, with an Italian director. I also met the father of my daughter and spent time away.
Your first big recognition came in 2005, with Joan Brossa’s ‘La Xarxa’.
One day I bumped into Josep Maria Mestres, who had been one of my teachers, and right then, by chance, he was looking for a female actor to play Isolda in ’La xarxa’. In fact, one of the first things I did, in Mercat de les Flors, was by Brossa. Brossa was still alive at that time, and he gave me some cards that I still have. He told me that cards is a game of chance. They were printed in a random way, so that the pattern did not match the colour. He said that those cards represented a game of chance in essence. When Josep Maria Mestres offered me the role in ’La xarxa’, Brossa had died. I always think about those cards he gave me and what he said about chance. It was by chance that I bumped into Josep Maria, I got that role by chance, and perhaps it was chance that led to a change in my life. I had done commercially successful films in Madrid, but my career changed by doing theatre in that small venue that bears Brossa’s name.
‘La plaça del Diamant’, in the National Theatre, earnt you your place in Catalan theatre.
I did this play because Josep Maria Benet i Jornet, Sergi Belbel and Toni Casares put their trust in me. Thanks to them I got to play that marvellous character. It was mentally and physically tough, because I was on stage for four hours, and the character was going through a war, but it was also an adventure that I will treasure. We did quite a long season in the main room of the National Theatre, which was full every night. After that, we took it on tour for a year. I have wonderful memories of it, because it was very well received. I love going on tour. I find that it has a lot to do with the essence of what theatre was to me when I first dreamt of doing it.
Among the roles you’ve played, which are your favourites and what did you get from them?
All of them are enriching. When you play a great literary character written by the likes of Shakespeare, you always get something out of it. The language of theatre is often not the language people use every day, and that enriches you. When talking to friends, you might use an expression you know off by heart because you have said it many times in the theatre, so that it has become part of you.
What has maturing professionally and personally brought to your career?
Every day that I’ve spent working in this profession has been like a gift, and if it has to end one day, then I will always have those wonderful years of working that I love so much to fall back on. I don’t think you should consider stopping just because you’re getting older. You continue to learn and grow, and enjoy certain aspects more. Others go by the wayside, and you learn to adapt to the path. Women have always had it tough, because there have always been fewer roles than for men. After a certain age, there are fewer opportunities to progress. It’s hard for a woman to keep up the same level in this profession. Once you get to 50, it seems as if things become more complicated. You are punished for how you look if you are woman. A mature man is seen as attractive, a mature woman is seen as past it. There is a lot of prejudice linked to getting older. We cannot afford to fall into this trap. I think that women who have kept up the same level for years in this profession have earnt and deserve respect. We cannot allow them to be marginalised.
Music and Lluís Llach have also played an important role in your career.
Jordi Dauder and Lluís Llach were looking for a female singer for a tribute to Miquel Martí i Pol and they called me. I knew Lluís, because we used to rehearse in his house in Empordà. That summer he asked me if I wanted to go with him and some friends to Greece on a boat. It was an unforgettable summer. Thinking of those times still brings a smile to my lips. It’s all part of a life that you have chosen and that gives you the opportunity to meet people who leave their mark on you. Some of them have left us, like Jordi, while others are still here.
What’s next for Sílvia Bel?
I’m always doing some type of theatre. Right now I’m touring a piece we did in the Biblioteca with Sergi Belbel, and I have other projects that still have no date but that are on the table. I love it. As Jordi Pons said: “We’ve spent our lives doing this, and we don’t know how to do much else.” It’s the same with me. I’ve spent my life doing theatre, and I don’t know how to do much else.
“My career changed in that small theatre that BEARs Brossa’s name” “Every day that I’ve spent in this profession has been a gift”